Barbara Kingsolver has entertained and touched the lives of legions of readers with her critically acclaimed and bestselling novels The Bean Trees, Animal Dreams, and Pigs in Heaven. In these twenty-five newly conceived essays, she returns once again to her favored literary terrain to explore the themes of family, community, and the natural world. With the eyes of a scientist and the vision of a poet, Kingsolver writes about notions as diverse as modern motherhood, the history of private property, and the suspended citizenship of humans in the animal kingdom. Her canny pursuit of meaning from an inscrutable world compels us to find instructions for life in surprising places: a museum of atomic bomb relics, a West African voodoo love charm, an iconographic family of paper dolls, the ethics of a wild pig who persistently invades a garden, a battle of wills with a two-year-old, or a troop of oysters who observe high tide in the middle of Illinois. In sharing her thoughts about the urgent business of being alive, kingsolver the essayist employs the same keen eyes, persuasive tongue, and understanding heart that characterize her acclaimed fiction.